As much as I love the Mission: Impossible movies, this first installment has always been my least favourite. Which is weird because being the first movie you'd expect it to easily be the best one, especially when it's directed by someone who knows what they're doing.
And yet a re-watch confirms that this is still not the Mission: Impossible movie for me.
Don't get me wrong: it's a decent movie and far less silly than its successor (what isn't?). It starts off strong with the team being taken down one by one in a mission that, ironically, really does prove impossible. Turns out a mole set everyone up and Ethan Hunt, being the only survivor, is the prime suspect. Luckily he's got old men masks, a shitty old PC and chewing gum bombs to keep him safe. He bolts and the rest of the film sees him having to retrieve a mega-important list of spies from a super-safe over at Langley thereby proving his innocence. To do this, he hires the help of Ving Rhames and Jean Reno.
Really the whole film relies on its three main action sequences: the opening mission, the break-in and the train bit at the end. All good scenes, for sure, but whatever happens in between is just not that interesting. Mostly I just remember Cruise sitting at his computer sending out Bible quotes to Job-related websites. The opening scene of the film gets what was good about the TV series: the masks, the silly gadgets, the suspense, the theme tune, the badass credit sequence... it's all there. Then for me things get pretty pedestrian pretty quickly. Turns out you're just watching the usual 90's thriller with all the usual 90's thriller tricks. Good guys turn out to be bad guys, yada yada yada. What I'm saying is this should have felt unique and although we do get a taste of what a Mission: Impossible movie could be like, it never completely materializes, dissolving itself into something a bit too familiar.
I should mention the cast also which, The Cruiser aside, frankly fails to kick my ass. Jon Voight's fine but lacks the presence his character needed, Emilio Estevez checks out early, Emmanuelle Beart isn't very convincing and even Reno gets short-changed character-wise. Some reveals work, some don't. It's basically one of those films that's really more of a template for a long-running franchise rather than THE definitive example of that concept.
Mission: Impossible, as ok as it is, is nowhere near as fun as MI:2 or Ghost Protocol and just not as good as J.J. Abrams MI:III. Overall, it's a tense, stylish thriller with some kickass moments but lacking in consistency and pure popcorn entertainment.